10/15/05 9:00 PM ET
Cards swiftly become the underdogs
St. Louis not catching any breaks in NLCS
Facts Machine: Resilient Cards
|This is the second straight season the Cardinals have trailed in the NLCS. St. Louis has bounced back to win the NLCS three times after trailing in the series.|
|1987||San Francisco||3-2||Won, 4-3|
|1985||Los Angeles||2-0||Won, 4-2|
In the regular season, they had time. Now, time's the enemy, and you can rest assured the Astros won't wait for them to get healthy.Another Cardinals starter went down Saturday when third baseman Abraham Nunez -- perhaps the MVP of fill-ins for the Cardinals this year as a strong replacement for Rolen -- suffered a bruised left thigh in a collision at third base with the Astros' Jason Lane. Nunez doesn't know if he'll be able to play in Game 4. Sanders is hopeful he can play after missing Game 3 with a strained neck from a spectacular fall he had on the warning Track in Game 2. And Walker? Well, he just keeps finding a way to play through his neck problems. And that's where it stands for the Cardinals right now: They've got to find a way, no matter the pain, and no matter who's in the lineup. "We've got to toughen up," shortstop David Eckstein said. "That's the bottom line. Someone's going to have to play. And whoever is playing needs to step it up. That's why we have 25 guys on this roster. You can't start making excuses." The Cardinals certainly are not doing that. At this point, they've got to draw upon the resilience they showed in the regular season in working through the injuries, and past them. It's not like this is new to them.
"That's the way it's been all year, and we won 100 games that way," Walker said.Added Edmonds: "Our lineup's been thin all year. We've been without three guys for about four of the six months." Indeed, the Cardinals prevailed over the injuries to win the NL Central by 11 games over these same Astros. Right now, injuries have become the great equalizer against a team that's just as determined to make this October last longer. It looked like the Cardinals' chances of reaching the World Series were solid a few days ago, and they still may be. They're facing a challenge that's much the same as what they stared down in the regular season, yet it's all too different because of the circumstances. Come Sunday, we'll see how the Cardinals meet that challenge, and those circumstances.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.